By Tim Galloway, FlintSide
FLINT, MI – Students gather around tables early in the morning in the Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary auditorium, enjoying yogurt parfaits on one of their last days of school. Not so long ago, many of these students would not have entertained the idea of eating yogurt with fresh fruits and granola.
“It’s satisfying to see them respond positively to healthy food,” says Sarah Schroeder, 25, of Flushing, one of five FoodCorps service members working in Flint—the largest cohort assigned to a single city in the state. Originally it was thought to be the largest in the nation, but there are a few larger.
FoodCorps, a part of the AmeriCorps service network, has been operating in Flint since 2010 working through the Crim Fitness Foundation to provide nutritional education in all 12 Flint Community Schools buildings. They operate community gardens, bring in taste tests, and even weigh in on healthy lunch options.
“Parents love the fact that there are fresh vegetables at each one of the schools,” says Sharon Davenport, who oversees FoodCorps as program director of physical activity and nutrition for the Crim. “They utilize it too. A lot of them will go out to the gardens and weed and take fresh vegetables home.”
The program started in Flint with one FoodCorps service member but grew fivefold in response to the Flint water crisis. A balanced diet is being promoted as one key way to counteract the effects of lead exposure in children.